Reading Film (Fall 2011)

a qwriting blog for ENG 110

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a) Diagramming Difference: Thinking about the metaphor built into the class topic, students will create a graphic organization of 7 ways the medium of film is and is not like the medium of writing. This might take the form of a list, Venn diagram, bar graph, pie chart, Carroll diagram, semiotic square, etc. In visually comparing and contrasting the two media, students should consider differences in rhetorical address, mechanics, and argumentation. An accompanying 3-4 page essay discusses the advantages and problems of a comparative approach.

b) Reviewing the Reviewer: Students will be assigned a sampling of reviews of a popular film. Students should also read reviews by these same critics of other films. Drawing on social science disciplines like sociology and anthropology, students prepare a 3-4 page “field report” on the range of beliefs about quality cinema expressed in these reviews. The focus should be less on agreeing or disagreeing with these critics, and more on identifying, organizing, and communicating in written form the 3-4 central concerns of each reviewer and their primary mode of rhetorical address.

c) Investigative Proposal: Students will submit a formal proposal for a final essay. In four paragraphs, students should present a specific theme and investigative question to pursue, should examine the purpose of the investigation and how it will contribute to the study of literacy and film, should consider a method for approaching the subject, and should identify possible resources that will be useful for exploring the topic. One approach is to select a particular film to pose a question about. Another approach is to reflect on a student’s own interaction with cinema.

d) Annotated Bibliography: Students will find three secondary sources to inform their investigation, at least one of which is in print form (i.e., journal articles, book chapters, book reviews, author interviews). Students will learn to use electronic databases like JSTOR, EBSCOHost, and the CUNY+ catalog. Using MLA style, students will create an annotated Works Cited page with citations and one-paragraph evaluative summaries of each article.

e) Mock Interview: Students will prepare the transcript of an imagined, mock debate-interview between two filmmakers or critics studied during the semester. Students should position themselves as interviewer between two figures, pose a problem or question, elicit responses and dialogue, and analyze and respond to these claims. This might include issues that arise in a course on “reading film”; for instance, students may take a position on whether and how film is really “like” literature, or why one is “better” than the other. 4-5 pages.

f) Final Paper: Before writing their final papers, students will complete a Messy First Draft, where they make an initial, experimental exploration of their proposed idea in 8 informal and unfinished pages; a Formal Outline, where students examine their first draft and experiment with ways of organizing their material to create an appropriate overall structure; and a Second Draft, where students take a more informed, analytical, and critical approach to the topic they have chosen to investigate. This process will be discussed in the Cover Letter described above.

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